Gen. James Jones is not a "useful idiot." He's a well-educated, most respected military professional. He's also a highly decorated Marine. He is President Obama's National Security Adviser. Ordinarily, that would be good news for all Americans.
That cynical "useful idiot" phrase comes to us from Vladimir Lenin, the Bolshevik revolutionary who overthrew Russia's democratic government in 1917. Lenin set up the world's first Communist regime. Soon after taking power in Moscow, the Communists saw famine overtake their new Soviet Union. Everything was rationed. All property was owned by the proletariat -- and soon everything was in short supply.
Beset by shortages, invading Germans, and civil war at home, Lenin presided over one famous Kremlin meeting during which he renewed his assurances that capitalism was on its last legs. "We will hang all the capitalists," Lenin pledged. His comrade Martov bitterly answered: "Under our great new socialist government, we couldn't even find enough rope to hang them!" Lenin, ever humorless, responded: "When I get ready to hang the capitalists, those useful idiots will sell me the rope -- on credit."
The Washington Post celebrated July 4th with an astonishing front-page story. In it, the entire national security apparatus of the United States was laid out. The daily -- and nightly -- routines of Defense Sec. Robert Gates, Homeland Security Sec. Janet Napolitano, Attorney Gen. Eric Holder, as well as Gen. Jones and CIA Director Leon Panetta were described in detail. Was that wise?
In the article, Gen. Jones is described as someone who feared the Soviet Union when he was a boy. The Post tells us that when the 6'4" strapping general was growing up, he was never afraid of the dark, but he was afraid of Russia. "His parents would talk soberly of the Iron Curtain," the article informs us. "The image 'terrified me as a child. Millions of people in prison, behind a so-called curtain,' the article quotes the general.
Now, we are told, the general calls Sergei Prikhodko, the Russian national security adviser, many nights. Gen. Jones believes that by regularly interacting with Prikhodko, he can better defend Americans from the threats we face today.
Can we? Another recent press report -- this one from Reuters-- informs us that Russia is cooperating with Syria in building a nuclear power plant. Now, if we recall, Russia is the country whose own large nuclear power plant -- Chernobyl -- melted down with catastrophic results in 1986. Why even Syria would want Russian help in building a nuclear power plant is highly questionable. Russia never reported, however, any difficulties building nuclear weapons.
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, with whom our President Obama chowed down at Ray's Hell Burger recently, told a news conference last May that "cooperation on atomic energy [between Russia and Syria] could get a second wind."
Syria is widely viewed as a client state of Iran, whose own nuclear ambitions have the world -- even the normally impotent UN -- so alarmed.
Syria is a state-sponsor of terrorism.
But here is Gen. Jones conferring almost daily with Sergei Phikhodko, calling him in his Kremlin office.
During World War II, Prime Minister Winston Churchill visited Josef Stalin in the Kremlin. Stalin was rude, even abusive. He told Churchill that if the British fought the Germans harder, they wouldn't be so afraid of them.
Churchill was outraged. He went back to the British Embassy at night, where he dictated a cable to London, telling his Deputy Prime Minister everything that had happened. Churchill's private secretary, Patrick Kinna, later recalled a British Embassy official telling Churchill: "Prime Minister: I must warn you that everything you say is being recorded by the Soviets. Everything. Even here in the Embassy."
Instead of being quiet or more circumspect, Churchill raised his voice, telling London that if Stalin's abuse continued, he would be forced to break off negotiations and head back home. The uneasy alliance between the Communists and the West would be in jeopardy.
The next day, Stalin was quiet, polite, almost cooperative.
Everything that Gen. Jones says to Prikhodko is being recorded. Everything. And everything he says is being checked by Russian Premier Vladimir Putin, the grim gray eminence in the Kremlin, against what his spies in the U.S. are telling him.
Gen. Jones, the Post informs us, is a light sleeper. Reading how closely he is working with his "opposite number" -- as he calls Prikhodko -- is enough to cause all of us to lose sleep.